Radial Shockwave Therapy
Foot Pain and Plantar Fasciitis Shockwave Treatment
Foot pain can be caused by a number of conditions, including plantar fasciitis, diabetic wounds, neuromas, and Achilles tendinitis. It’s not uncommon for individuals to suffer pain from such chronic issues for months or even years before seeking treatment, in part because they don’t want to deal with surgery or the inconvenience of weeks or months of physical therapy appointments.
While there are a number of treatment options available for foot pain — including oral pain medication, steroid injections, physical therapy, and surgery — radial shockwave therapy is one option many people don’t hear about or consider. And it provides fast relief and might be the best choice for many patients.
What is Radial Shockwave Therapy?
Radial shockwave therapy, or RSWT, involves sending a sound wave through your skin and tissue to cause a microtrauma to the area. It may seem weird to cause a small trauma to treat an existing trauma, but the new inflammation caused by the RSWT kicks your body’s healing mechanism into order, causing it to start addressing issues in the area. That includes the underlying issues behind your existing foot pain.
Why doesn’t your body address the foot pain without the nudge from RSWT? If your foot pain is caused by a chronic condition, your body may no longer recognize that there is an injury to treat in that area. In short, your body has learned to live with the pain and thinks it’s normal, so it doesn’t work to heal the area.
RSWT also causes specific bio-chemicals in your body to be released, which can speed up the healing process even more.
may be the right therapy for your foot pain, talk to your doctor about it.
Why Choose RSWT for Foot Pain and Plantar Fasciitis
Most doctors will recommend nonsurgical treatments be exhausted before surgery, and RSWT is less expensive and doesn’t require the potential recovery time and pain of surgery, so it’s easy to see why a patient might choose to try it first. Plus, RSWT doesn’t involve taking medication, which can have uncomfortable and even dangerous side effects.
RSWT also compares favorably to physical therapy. PT treatment for a chronic foot issue requires maintaining a therapy appointment two to three times a week for as long as six weeks. With each appointment taking around an hour for treatment — and possibly another hour in transportation and wait times — that’s around 36 hours of your life. Relying on PT means taking about three waking days over the course of 1.5 months out of your schedule.
RSWT only requires one appointment a week and the treatment time is only five minutes. Even if you add another hour for transportation and waiting, that’s less than seven hours of your time in the same 1.5 months.
You can begin to see how radial shockwave therapy can be a very convenient option for those suffering from certain types of chronic foot pain.
The Cost of Radial Shockwave Therapy
RSWT isn’t covered by most insurance plans. However, the total cost of the therapy usually comes out to be equal to or less than your copays on physical therapy might be, and certainly less than deductibles associated with surgeries might be.
Who Does RSWT Work For?
If you are experiencing chronic foot pain associated with soft tissue tendinopathy, RSWT might be right for you.
No treatment for these types of injuries is 100 percent effective, but over a 20 year period, studies on the effectiveness of RSWT have shown success rates between 72 and 80 percent. Since it’s not invasive and doesn’t take hours of your time, it’s therapy many people are willing to try.
What to Expect from RSWT
RSWT treatments are performed by trained doctors. The doctor uses an applicator that is similar to the wand used in performing ultrasounds. He or she moves the applicator over the appropriate area to deliver short bursts of ballistic sound waves into the area. The treatment may come with some discomfort, and telling your doctor where you feel any pain can help him or her direct the treatment more appropriately.
In the day or two following each treatment, you may feel light discomfort in the area akin to minor bruising. That signals the treatment is working and your body is likely beginning to heal itself.
If you feel like RSWT may be the right therapy for your foot pain, talk to your doctor about it.
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Align Foot & Ankle is dedicated to getting you moving again.
"I've always believed in exhausting conservative treatment over surgery. Over the years in practice, I've kept many people out of the operating room. Even then, the patients who have been taken to surgery are extremely pleased with their results. I will do all I can to get you moving again...without pain or discomfort!"
Dr. Hai-En Peng